You keep hearing about the importance of introducing fresh vegetables and fruits into your meals in order to maintain your health. However, since more and more organizations are pointing out the level of pollution in our environment, you might wonder at some point about the safety of growing and eating vegetables. In order for these elements to provide a good nutrition, they need to be grown in good quality soil. The soil is made of basic organic materials and certain decomposing organisms, which ensure a regular cleaning and aeration of the soil.

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In order to ensure that the tap water in your local area is safe to drink, you need to find out whether the contamination exceeds the normal levels. In most cases, the authorities will tell you they have performed several tests on the water and have found nothing wrong with it. However, their statement has often been found conflicting with the information provided by research institutes. Moreover, there are several cases of illnesses related to the contamination of the water supporting this theory.

Does the level of water contamination vary for every region?

Scientists have often warned the population regarding the risks they are exposed to by consuming tap water in certain states. You may or may not be aware that the ground water of every area comes from different sources, thus the contamination levels vary quite a bit. Underwater streams are affected by the level of pollution in the soil. At the same time, air pollution has a great impact on the rainwater. Therefore, if you are living in highly polluted region of the country, then there is a pretty big chance that the toxicity levels of the water deem it unsafe for consumption.

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Recent news report about the pollution that is seriously mining the ecosystem of the Danube river, Europe’s second longest river after the Volga. “It’s a serious ecological catastrophe, but we don’t know the size of it,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters.

THE FACT: A caustic red slurry was released Monday (October 4th) in Ajka, about 160 kilometres southwest of Budapest, after a reservoir burst at an alumina refining plant owned by Magyar Aluminium Termelo es Kereskedelmi (the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company), also known as Mal. The flood killed four people, injured more than 100 and damaged several communities.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/10/07/hungary-sludge-danube.html?ref=rss#ixzz11mplA4TC

The laboratories at EMSL Analytical provide affordable mold, lead, asbestos and other contaminant testing solutions.

Westmont, NJ

As the economy shows signs that the country is over the worst of the recession with a 3.5% third quarter growth in GPD, the number of homes going into foreclosure continues to climb. Even with all the government sponsored efforts to prevent foreclosures the past three months have likely seen the highest number of foreclosures in the country’s history.

According to one recent report by RealtyTrac® one in every 136 homes in the U.S. are now in foreclosure, which is 23% increase over the same period last year. The market is now flooded with these properties and many first time homebuyers and real estate investors are looking to buy these discounted properties.

Real estate foreclosures come in all types of conditions from move-in ready to completely run down, vandalized and neglected properties. Many of these same properties are being sold by the banks ‘as is’ so buyers need to be aware of potential problems with such issues such as mold contamination, lead paint and asbestos.

Properly conducted home inspections should identify many of these issues, but a number of buyers forgo this important step which can lead to costly environmental issues later. EMSL Analytical, one of the nation’s largest environmental testing laboratories, provides affordable testing solutions for prospective buyers and property inspectors.

“Up to 24 million homes in the U.S. contain substantial lead paint hazards according to the CDC and the EPA recently announced new guidance for properties constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1978 because of concerns with PCBs in caulking material,” reported Joe Frasca, Executive Vice President for EMSL Analytical. “Millions more likely have issues with mold and asbestos so it is imperative to have a property inspected and tested to protect the buyer’s interests,” Frasca continued.

To learn more about environmental testing or other testing needs please visit www.EMSL.com, email info@EMSL.com or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of indoor air quality, environmental, industrial hygiene, food and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.

[Source: http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=107209]

In his first speech to the United Nations, President Barack Obama issues a blunt message on Wednesday: America alone cannot fix the world’s problems. The president calls for a new era of cooperation to solve the globe’s most pressing issues.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2009
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
“Responsibility for our Common Future”
Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: it is my
honor to address you for the first time as the forty-fourth President of the United
States. I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people
have placed upon me; mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history;
and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at
home and abroad.
I have been in office for just nine months, though some days it seems a lot longer. I
am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world.
These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted – I believe – in a
discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our
differences, and outpaced by our problems. But they are also rooted in hope – the
hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in
bringing about such change.
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Written by Peebles Squire, cross-posted from the CCAN blog.

Yesterday the EPA performed a turn-around on its protection of the locations of 44 “high risk” coal ash impoundment sites, signaling a desire to make the regulatory body more transparent.

Formerly protected under the auspices of national security, the ash impoundments, located in Ohio, Arizona, and throughout the southeast, have been determined to be particularly vulnerable to failure. In a time where the future of American energy remains stuck between antiquated fossil fuels and cleaner, renewable technology, concerns over proper disposal of coal ash has risen to the top of the debate, particularly after last December’s TVA sludge disaster in Roane County, Tennessee.

The reason behind this concern is, of course, fairly easy to identify. Coal slurry ponds, which may hold several billion gallons of the toxic sludge, are typically held in place by earthen dams made of rock and other fill material. While typically sturdy, history has shown us that these dams are definitely prone to failure, especially when not regulated properly. In fact, the dangers surrounding slurry dams have been well known and well documented for decades. West Virginia’s Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972 destroyed over 500 homes with a 30-foot high, 132 million gallon wave of the toxic stuff. When blasting occurs near these ponds (as it does near Marsh Fork Elmentary in Sunrise, WV), the risk becomes intensified as nearby shockwaves may threaten the structural integrity of the dam.

Fly ash, though dry and therefore less at risk to flooding, presents just as serious a hazard to the local ecosystem, including surrounding communities, wildlife, and groundwater reserves. Fly ash is stored in landfills, most of which are lined, but all of which are failure-prone. Particles in the air, blown from these ash impoundments, can cause serious health problems such as asthma and other respiratory diseases. Like wet slurry, fly ash contains a cocktail of harmful heavy metals and other contaminants that present a serious threat to the local and regional ecosystem… and to human health.

“CCRs [coal combustion residues] contain a broad range of metals, for example, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead, and mercury, but the concentrations of these are generally low. However, if not properly managed, (for example, in lined units), CCRs may cause a risk to human health and the environment and, in fact, EPA has documented cases of environmental damage“ (courtesy EPA.gov).

The collection and storage of coal ash is but one piece in a larger fossil fuel regime that thrives on the continued exploitation of the United States’ natural, non-renewable resources, known to cause significant air pollution and contribute to global climate change. The coal extraction, combustion, and disposal process is among the most destructive practices in human history, and with the continued popularity of mountaintop removal mining, the coal industry goes so far as to threaten the geography of Appalachia itself.

The EPA has made positive steps in naming these so-called high-risk sites, but seems to be avoiding tackling the bigger picture; coal is an unsustainable resource that is dirty, harmful, and dangerous. While 44 of these impoundment sites may be deemed more at-risk than others, the fact remains that anywhere coal is extracted, burned, or stored, safety is a non-issue, because coal is not, and never will be, “safe.”

President Obama, who has so far struggled with fulfilling his promise of increased transparency and accountability within government, has made significant forward progress by allowing the release of these 44 sites. However, the larger issue of formulating an American energy future – one without coal – rests untackled. As long as coal is allowed to thrive in Appalachia, the Midwest, and elsewhere, American citizens will remain at risk. The fossil fuel industry represents an old and outdated way of thinking: the idea that our actions now will bear no consequence on the future. We have now stepped healthily into the 21st century, largely thankful to the energy that fossil fuels of yore have given us, and as we continue to evolve as a species and a society, we are charged with abandoning a tradition that will serve no other end but to continue to harm Americans.

To President, Obama, Congress, and the EPA, if we are to bring the United States into a clean energy future, one that emphasizes the importance of renewable technologies, green jobs, and energy that is free of filthy, harmful substances, then we must see a real effort to focus on goals that do not give coal a future in the grid. The EPA seems to think that the term, “high risk,” should be reserved for a mere 44 out of the hundreds of slurry ponds and fly ash fills that sprinkle the American landscape. A more appropriate move would be to extend the “high risk” moniker to its proper breadth, across the entire industry.

The Post-Standard – Syracuse.com, NY
How far did the contamination spread while environmental and utility officials were figuring out what do? Could the cleanup have begun earlier? Is there a way to inject more urgency into the process, from the time contaminants are discovered to the … [read more]

WASHINGTON — The new PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters” reported on April 21st that a new wave of chemical compounds that scientists describe as raising dangers for human health have been found in drinking water systems of cities across the country by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Poisoned Waters,” airing nationwide on PBS, (check local listings) reveals new evidence that today’s growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.

“The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in large population studies,” Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tells correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Hedrick Smith. Those studies correlate health risks with exposure to chemicals in the environment known as endocrine disrupters because they disrupt the body’s normal functioning.

“We can show that people with higher levels of some of these chemicals may have a higher incidence” of disease and such harmful effects such as lower male sperm count, asserts Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “In most cases, we don’t know what the safe levels are.”

Tests by the U.S. Geological Survey of source waters for urban drinking water systems, have documented new contaminants coast to coast. Other scientists say these chemicals are causing fish kills, frogs with six legs, male fish with female eggs in their gonads and other mutations. They see these mutations as warnings to humans.

Millions of people are being exposed to endocrine disruptors, Lawrence explains, “and we don’t know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia — things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don’t raise the alarm in the general public.”

Using Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound as case studies, “Poisoned Waters” examines how these emerging pollutants along with old industrial contaminants like PCBs, lead and mercury and agricultural pollution from concentrated hog, cattle and chicken growing operations, have kept America from making many of the nation’s waterways fishable and swimmable again — a goal set by Congress nearly four decades ago.

“The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it’s not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown,” says Smith. “But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It’s a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives.”

“Poisoned Waters” is a FRONTLINE co-production with Hedrick Smith Productions, Inc. Hedrick Smith is correspondent and senior producer. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. For more info go to www.pbs.org/frontline/poisonedwaters

SOURCE Hedrick Smith Productions

Southern Research Institute is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development and advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy. Their more than 600 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities also located in Wilsonville, Ala., Anniston, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC. For more information about Southern Research and its capabilities and accomplishments, visit www.SouthernResearch.org.

Led by Dr. Derek Eggert, Southern Research will now begin developing approaches to remediate problematic constituents contained in commercial and industrial effluents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 11 — Southern Research Institute today announced that it is adding a new research capability focusing on the remediation of problematic constituents in water and wastewater sources. Environmental toxicologist Derek Eggert, Ph.D. will lead the new program that is located on Southern Research’s main campus in Birmingham.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Eggert has joined Southern Research, enabling us to expand our environmental services to industry,” said Michael D. Johns, vice-president of Engineering at Southern Research. “The remediation of industrial water is important to the quality of our water systems. Because of Derek’s expertise, Southern Research can now help develop environmentally and economically sound solutions to treat those problems.”

By creating the Water and Wastewater Treatment team, Southern Research will help remediate contaminants — such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and oil and grease — from various waste streams in order to reuse or discharge into a local waterway.

Before joining Southern Research, Dr. Eggert was a research assistant in Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

CONTACT:
Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634
Jung@SouthernResearch.org

A Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Balik Scientist recipient has proposed the establishment of a multidisciplinary research group to focus on the uses of phytoremediation in the country following his study on the capability of indigenous plants to rid soil pollution in mining areas.

Dr. Augustine Doronila, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia, said it is worth studying the various aspects of phytoremediation, which uses living plants to mop up pollution in the environment like metal contaminants in the soil, and restores ecological balance in a mining area.

DOST’s Balik Scientist Program started in 1975 under which Filipino scientists abroad are encouraged to return to the country and conduct trainings, seminars, lectures, projects and evaluation for the benefit of the Filipino scientific community.

Last year, a total of 38 Balik Scientists heeded the call and came back to their native country.
Doronila proposed the establishment of the research group, to be called the Philippine Metalophyte Research Consortium, to be based in the Ateneo de Manila University with a mission of determining the botanical, chemistry, biological, geological, ecological, and anthropological aspects of implementing phytoremediation.

According to Doronila, there are endemic plant species in the country that can help restore mine-damaged soils. His research on phytoremediation revealed that it can “help clean tainted environment.”

Doronila discovered a possible new nickel hyper accumulator that belongs to the Euphorbiacea family during a recent visit to Zambales.

“Tropical hyper accumulator plants are most likely found on ultramafic or serpentine rock formations,”
he said, explaining that ultramafic soils often contain high concentrations of magnesium and some toxic metals.

Wastes from mining activities, particularly the extraction and processing of mineral resources, are laden with heavy metals and chemicals that can seriously contaminate soil and water. Exposure to these contaminants affects people’s health and livelihood.

“Once the soil is restored, earnings can go up as high as P165,000 net per hectare,” Doronila said, basing his figures in an actual phytoremediated base-metal smelter in South Africa.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver. The mining industry contributed an estimated $1.4 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

[Source: http://mb.com.ph/articles/202231/indigenous-plants-vs-mine-pollutants]